Inquest hears Fleetwood teenager died on Layton train tracks after lockdown triggered her suicidal thoughts
17-year-old Holly Egan was killed when she was hit by a train heading from Blackpool North to Manchester on January 27 2022. Blackpool Coroner’s Court heard a Northern Rail train driver had been moving at 40mph with headlights on in darkness when the tragedy occurred at around 6:35pm. The driver spotted the blonde-haired girl on the track but it was too late to stop the train. The last hours of Holly’s life were examined during the inquest held at Blackpool Town Hall on Thursday, October 27, to determine whether anything could have prevented the death of this ‘polite’ girl with a ‘beautiful soul’ and a love of nature and music.
Holly, of Seacrest Avenue, Fleetwood, had been getting treatment for a mental health disorder, but several practitioners who had worked with her spoke of her difficulties in opening up about her suicidal thoughts. Assistant Coroner Andrew Cousins shared an extract from Holly’s mental health records, suggesting that school had provided several ‘useful distractions’ for Holly and that Covid put her at ‘increased risk’. The coroner read out the record from CASHER (Child & Adolescent Support & Help Enhanced Response), based at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. It said: “Lockdown has a significant impact on her mental health and that seems to be the time when suicidal ideations increased.”
The hearing also heard from Consultant Alji-Mohamed Samir, consultant psychiatrist with Children and Adult Mental Health Services In Patient services at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust. He told the hearing that she talked about harming herself and having suicidal thoughts, but had no plans to act on it. Dr Samir said: “She started feeling guilty because her friend had mental health issues and she felt responsible. When lockdown happened she could not see them, and couldn’t know if those guilty thoughts were justified or not.” He described Holly as ‘compassionate’ and that at one point during her treatment she did not want to go home as she might ‘burden her mum’. Holly had first been referred to the child and adolescent mental health services - CAMHS, in March 2020. She was admitted to The Cove, a specialist inpatient unit for young people with mental health issues in June 2020.
Steve Beasley, a Pastoral Mentor at Blackpool Sixth Form college, was the last known person to have spoken with Holly, in a one to one meeting which led to her being reported missing. Mr Beasley said that when she had approached him in the corridor early that afternoon she seemed ‘calm’ and ready to ‘take on her mental health problems’. He described it as a ‘positive step’ as she had often struggled to talk about her feelings. But later that afternoon, they had the meeting when Holly admitted that she was having suicidal thoughts. When she went to the bathroom at around 4:35, she’d left her belongings - a sign that suggested she was planning to come back. But she didn’t return, and the police were called at 5:50 as they realised she was missing and ‘at risk’. The inquest continues.
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Call Samaritans free on 116 123, email [email protected], or visit samaritans.org Visit https://www.shbi.org.uk/ for Counselling in Blackpool and Fleetwood.